When discrimination rears its ugly head, not only do those who are targets feel its sting, but also innocent bystanders. Restaurant owner Mike Jennings is one of those “innocents” who was wounded by discriminatory practices aimed at others. At his restaurant Grenache in Manchester, England, Jennings employs Andy Foster, a 45-year-old autistic man, as a waiter.
Recently, when Foster went to wait on a table, the customers called Jennings over and told him that something was amiss with Foster. Jennings said to the Manchester Evening News, “The customers seemed to have a problem with him, even though his service was good. I explained that he suffered from autism and their response was that they didn’t want to be served by him. They asked me why I would give him a job in a restaurant like ours. I couldn’t believe it.”
Foster said that the incident shook him so much that he apologized, but he said he realized that it was the customers who had a problem not him.
“I try not to take it personally because it has happened so many times in the past I have just got used to it,” he said to the Manchester Evening News in March 2016. “The other table I was serving left a big tip so I knew it wasn’t me."
After the incident, Jennings posted a message on his restaurant’s Facebook page asking anybody who actively discriminates against others not to come to his restaurant. Though Jennings said he “cringed” as he posted the message, he felt he had to take a stand.
Commenters on Jennings’ post agreed with his stance.
Dougie Lowe commented, “Well done!! Too many "customers" think they have the right to treat hospitality staff (and owners) any way they want to. They are wrong!!”
Martine Whitehead said, “I also think your recruitment policy as well as being legally sound is clearly perfect as your team are all amazing and your customer service ethos goes right from management to your front line. Lots of businesses could take a leaf from your book xx.”
Watch the video of Jennings and Foster speaking out about the incident below.